Traumatized w/o knowing? Is it possible? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A girlfriend just had her baby and shared her birth story with me. She is mainstream and we are more acquaintances, or I would have tried to share info.

Anyways, as she related her birth story, I found myself reading into it differently than her. She had an epi very early, they let her push for a 1/2 hour then her doctor said the baby was stuck, gave her a full episiotomy and used the vacuum.

I thought it was dreadful sounding and was ready to offer a hug and solace, but she ended the story by saying her OB was amazing and saved her baby and she is soooo happy about it.

This got me to thinking: can a behavior be objectively/factually abusive or harmful, and the person still benefit from it or feel good about it? If the person doesn't recognize something as abusive, does that make it non-abusive? Just looking for discussion.

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#2 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 12:45 AM
 
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Maybe she is not very educated about a normal birth and thinks that it really did go well? Sad, but it seems most people don't know when something is not right like that.

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#3 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 12:51 AM
 
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Maybe she is not very educated about a normal birth and thinks that it really did go well? Sad, but it seems most people don't know when something is not right like that.
Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
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#4 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
Yes, this is what I am wondering. Like, is it all based on a matter of opinion, or is there some objectivity to it as well?

e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...

Not trying to ruffle any feathers; my chat w/ her just got me thinking.



Oh! I thought of another example....I had posted a thread earlier about a college girl who had problems w/ a harassing room mate. She would tell me things that I would instantly label as very abusive, but she herself did not identify them as abusive. Is it all subjective? I remember telling her, "X is abuse" and her saying, "Well, it didn't seem like abuse" or "I didn't feel scared/hurt"

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#5 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 01:06 AM
 
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When did your friend give birth relative to when she told you the story?

I had a lousy birth experience with my first. Had the epidural early, vaccuum extraction after five hours of pushing (during which the epi failed...) And it *sucked*. But the day after it was all over, I was okay with it. Loved the OB. Adored the nurses. Would have done it all the same again.

A week after that, I was a little not okay with it. A month after that, I was *furious*. I am never giving birth in that hospital again. I am livid about how I was treated during and after labor and delivery, I am grateful that the OB was so patient (most would have had me in for a c-section far earlier in the pushing process), and the nurses were indeed awesome, but the entire labor was ridiculously overmanaged, and IMO, mismanaged.

It sounds to me like your friend's birth was managed for the doctor's convenience, and that your friend suffered an unnecessary episiotomy as a result. It is completely possible that she'll see this herself in a week, or a month, or at some point down the road. She has to get there herself though.
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#6 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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It does sound terrible but it could be fine for her emotionally. I know my first birth was bad but to me it was fine. My DH was even traumatized by it! But I was so out of it really it didn't hit me at all if that makes sense.

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Yes, this is what I am wondering. Like, is it all based on a matter of opinion, or is there some objectivity to it as well?

e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...
I believe it is all relative. I'm sure my birth wouldn't have been traumatic to some. I have heard some birth stories and asked mama if she was ok and she has no idea why I am even asking. I think it really depends on the person paired with the experience. Like if there was a sexual trauma or something it might trigger a trauma in birth. Then again if mama is laying there thinking everything being done needs to be and it's fine and normal she *might* be just fine (maybe not). it just really depends. A beautiful 2 hour water birth to everyone involved can be just fine but to mama the worse 2 hours of her life and she can't quite heal.

I know that in talking about my traumatizing birth and even my pregnancies I had a friend who kept saying "honey you are traumatized you need help" and I literally laughed it off and then everything came crashing down.

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#7 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 01:11 AM
 
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I know a woman who had a similar birth with her 1st child about 10 years ago. When she starts the story, she always starts by saying, "Thank God for modern medicine. I know that midwives are good, but I would never use one because I would have died if I hadn't been in a hospital with a good O.B." Then she explains the cascade of interventions that she endured and finishes by saying, "So then I screamed at the doctor to get out and get his hands off of my and I had the nurses finish taking care of me."

So saying that the doctor saved her life appears to be her way of coping with the trauma.
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#8 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 01:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Her babe is a couple months old so I guess that needs to be taken into consideration too.

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#9 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 04:55 PM
 
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I agree with the time frame issue. I was thrilled to have my baby and even joked with my doula about having her as my midwife for the next baby a week after the birth. By 1 month I was sobbing, by 6 months I was railing because her "support" was nonexistent and I suffered loads of unecessary medical interventions.

I also think that it's a matter of what we expect to happen during birth. My sister had pitocin and an unecessary episiotomy to get her baby out faster than the woman in the next room, so the doctor could be present at both births. She had no idea there was a less clinical way to give birth and didn't care one bit. I would have been furious. In some ways I wish I had never learned about natural, supported birth, as I would have thought the interventions were necessay and lifesaving and probably would feel thankful instead of traumatized.

I also have seen women arrive at the hospital complete, push their babies out and go home the next day. This looks ideal to me, in fact I told my doula that was my "perfect" birth, but was extremely traumatic for these women because they were expecting an epidural and a painless birth.
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#10 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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I also have seen women arrive at the hospital complete, push their babies out and go home the next day. This looks ideal to me, in fact I told my doula that was my "perfect" birth, but was extremely traumatic for these women because they were expecting an epidural and a painless birth.
yes - my birth didn't go according to plan (homebirth transfer blah blah) & by the time the baby was delivered by forceps i was under a full epidural & didn't feel a thing (i had chosen that: this was 36 hours into the labour). but THAT is what i found hardest to process following the birth - the fact i couldn't feel my baby coming out of me, let alone push her out myself.

i was talking to an acquaintance yesterday who had a "terrible" time because by the time she arrived at the hospital it was too late for an epidural & she had "felt it all", which she didn't want. exact opposite. but i think her emotions are not invalid - they are HER emotions about HER experience. i don't think that everyone has to want the same birth experience, & i don't think differing experiences or desires are down to lack of education.
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#11 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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Surely one is only abused if one FEELS abused? The fact of delivery is just that, a fact. How one views it is so subjective - there are lots of women i know who were THRILLED with their epidural and ventouse experiece. asily as many as there are utterly traumatised by the exact same birth. It is all about perceptions, values and choices. That's why some are furious even when the birth they had was totally normal or necessary and others are quite happy with a highly unnecessarily intervened with birth.

To me it is important to take a person's feelings on a given day about a given thing as valid. Which means if a mama is thrilled with her failed induction and c-section experience today you celebrate with her and if she is devastated by it next week you commiserate with her. We all re-examine reality and cast it in a way we are comfortable with. For some people "trauma" doesn't occur to them as a possibility and for others it takes many years to work through.
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#12 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 05:34 PM
 
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Well according to what I have learned on MDC I should be all depressed and angry about my birth experiences. But, I'm not. I did my best with what I knew at the time and I'm not going to let myself be traumatized after the fact. My children are happy and healthy and that's what matters now.

Now I am still educating myself about childbirth (even though I'm done myself) and am passing that info on to others. But, what I'm finding is that a lot of women just don't care. They want the baby and don't care to give the pregnancy and birthing part of it that much thought.

In the end, if I were to have a 3rd child I think my pregnancy and birth would be WAY different b/c I know more (thanks to MDC). But, I will not allow myself to feel traumatized about past experiences.
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#13 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 07:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by claddaghmom View Post
I thought it was dreadful sounding and was ready to offer a hug and solace, but she ended the story by saying her OB was amazing and saved her baby and she is soooo happy about it.

This got me to thinking: can a behavior be objectively/factually abusive or harmful, and the person still benefit from it or feel good about it? If the person doesn't recognize something as abusive, does that make it non-abusive? Just looking for discussion.
yes, i think trauma is extremely subjective.

it sounds like your friend believes the interventions were necessary. and who knows? maybe they really were. (doesn't sound like it, but my point is, none of us were there--if the baby was in distress, the doctor's actions might have been called for.)

if she ever finds out that those interventions weren't necessary, and she was manipulated, she may very well feel abused.

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#14 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 07:43 PM
 
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I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action. I think an OB performing unnecessary interventions is being abusive of his/her patient, regardless of the patient's feelings. This happens a lot in obstetrics, imo.

Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end. If someone doesn't feel traumatized, then they weren't - probably. (I do have one caveat - people can realize, much, much later, that they suppressed the trauma at the time that it happened. I did that, to some extent, with my first section. I knew it was awful, and I had a bad time...but it wasn't until my next one was brought up that I realized just how messed up I was by it.)

It sounds quite likely - not definite, but likely - that the woman in the OP was abused...but that doesn't mean she was traumatized.

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#15 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 07:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
Surely one is only abused if one FEELS abused?
This is why I separate abuse and trauma. This isn't birth related, but I knew a woman once who said, about her live-in boyfriend, "sure, he rapes me, but he treats me good". She actually laughed at the idea that he was abusive, because he bought her gold jewelry and maintained her in a relatively lavish lifestyle, and she grew up poor. IMO, beating her and forcing her to have sex when she didn't want to constituted abuse, whether she saw it that way or not. (She was a fairly classic case of having been raised by such abusive people that she saw abusive behaviour as "normal"...so he was a great catch, by her thinking.)

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#16 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 08:03 PM
 
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I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action....Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end.
:

As an extreme example, if someone does something awful to you while you are unconscious, they abused you. Whether you are ever aware of and traumatized by what happened or not.

And it's possible to be traumatized by the actions of another person who was not being abusive (I would probably feel somewhat traumatized by a c-section, even if I was certain it was medically necessary and done by a good, respectful, OB, for instance).
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#17 of 34 Old 05-08-2009, 08:14 PM
 
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I agree with the distinction between abuse and trauma, just like I agree with a distinction between pain and suffering. One is external and one internal, one objective and one subjective.

So an event that seems "perfect" from the outside may be horribly traumatizing/cause suffering for the person involved while an event that seems "horrible" from the outside may be totally fine for the person involved. Actually, my vbac OB uses the suffering vs pain example a lot when discussing modern obstetrical practice and natural birth... that the goal of the medical world is to relieve pain but that removing pain does not mean you remove suffering and in fact the removal of pain may cause suffering.

Of course, an internal subjective view can change and an event that was once ok can suddenly be "not ok" and vice versa. But overall if the mom feels like she had a good birth than she did. Even if it isn't the birth we would pick for ourselves.

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#18 of 34 Old 05-11-2009, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the issues of trauma and abuse are separate.

Abuse is about the person performing the action. I think an OB performing unnecessary interventions is being abusive of his/her patient, regardless of the patient's feelings. This happens a lot in obstetrics, imo.

Trauma, otoh, is about the person on the receiving end. If someone doesn't feel traumatized, then they weren't - probably. (I do have one caveat - people can realize, much, much later, that they suppressed the trauma at the time that it happened. I did that, to some extent, with my first section. I knew it was awful, and I had a bad time...but it wasn't until my next one was brought up that I realized just how messed up I was by it.)

It sounds quite likely - not definite, but likely - that the woman in the OP was abused...but that doesn't mean she was traumatized.

You rock! lol That is the conclusion my brain was trying to reach and I appreciate everyone helping out!

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#19 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 12:38 AM
 
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Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
No, I agree with you. I just think there are good odds that in our society she may feel that this is just how it goes.

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#20 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 09:30 AM
 
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seems to me that she is thrilled to have her new healthy baby. How do you know that this baby didn't have problems that needed to be taken care of...possibly shoulder dystocia? It may sound dreadful to you, but the reality is that it really could have been a medical emergency. I say celebrate with the new mom....the most important thing is that everyone is healthy.
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#21 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 10:43 AM
 
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Yes, this is what I am wondering. Like, is it all based on a matter of opinion, or is there some objectivity to it as well?

e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...

Not trying to ruffle any feathers; my chat w/ her just got me thinking.



Oh! I thought of another example....I had posted a thread earlier about a college girl who had problems w/ a harassing room mate. She would tell me things that I would instantly label as very abusive, but she herself did not identify them as abusive. Is it all subjective? I remember telling her, "X is abuse" and her saying, "Well, it didn't seem like abuse" or "I didn't feel scared/hurt"
I believe that a c-section can be completely non-traumatizing. I have had two and I'm not traumatized in the least bit. I am a little bit disapointed, but no trauma.

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#22 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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I believe that a c-section can be completely non-traumatizing. I have had two and I'm not traumatized in the least bit. I am a little bit disapointed, but no trauma.
I completely agree. Trust me, when it comes down to the health of the baby and the mommy....a C-section is perfectly fine and non-traumatizing. I think what would be far more traumatizing would be a mommy or the baby (babies in my first pregnancy) not living through the delivery. And, quite frankly, that is REAL trauma.

I think judging other mothers' births is only hurting women. Why do some feel the need to judge? Why do some feel that their birth is the only way a baby should be born? The expected outcome is more about the health of the mother and the baby, not how the baby pops out. I'm pretty sure that my great grandmas (one birthed 8, the other 13) would be thankful that their descendants could have excellent medical care that, had it been available, would've prevented lots of trauma in their days.
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#23 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 12:12 PM
 
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e.g. Can a c-sec be completely non-traumatizing; can someone truly be happy, or is there always a certain objective trauma even if the person chooses to be happy or realizes it was inevitable...
Yes a c-section can be completely non-trumatizing.

With my first I knew that my doctor and I discussed all my options and that we were both on the same page at each step. I knew that we tried everything to have the least invasive birth possible and the fact that I ended up with a c-section was just one of those things. With my second c-section I did tons of research on vbac and cesarean and choose cesarean. I know it is a decision many on this board would disapprove of and disagree with but I made my decision fully education and informed and am very happy with it.

I guess I associate birth trauma with feeling bullied, or out of control of your experience and your environment. Or of being in a situation where things didn't go how you wanted and you were caught unprepared.

Neither of my experiences was ever that.

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#24 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 08:01 PM
 
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seems to me that she is thrilled to have her new healthy baby. How do you know that this baby didn't have problems that needed to be taken care of...possibly shoulder dystocia? It may sound dreadful to you, but the reality is that it really could have been a medical emergency. I say celebrate with the new mom....the most important thing is that everyone is healthy.


I agree. It's very possible that the OP didn't get the full story, esp. if they aren't good friends. There may have been good reasons for what happened, not all drs are monsters.
She is obviously happy and she has a healthy baby, just be happy for her.
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#25 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 08:12 PM
 
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I find this:
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Originally Posted by KariC1 View Post
I think judging other mothers' births is only hurting women.
very contradictory, when paired with this:
Quote:
I completely agree. Trust me, when it comes down to the health of the baby and the mommy....a C-section is perfectly fine and non-traumatizing. I think what would be far more traumatizing would be a mommy or the baby (babies in my first pregnancy) not living through the delivery. And, quite frankly, that is REAL trauma.
First of all, saying a c-section "is" non-traumatizing is every bit as judgmental as saying that one isn't. It depends on the person and their own experience.

Second - yes, the baby not living through the delivery is traumatic. I've been there, too. That doesn't give me the right to decide that what someone else has been through isn't "real" trauma. Would I rather have a c-section and a live baby than a VBAC or c-section and a dead baby? Obviously. That's part of why I've signed up for another hellish c-section. And, you know what? It's still traumatizing for me. You're being judgmental as hell in saying that a c-section is "perfectly fine" and losing a baby is "real trauma". They're both real trauma, if they traumatize the woman.

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Why do some feel the need to judge?
Why do you?
Quote:
The expected outcome is more about the health of the mother and the baby, not how the baby pops out. I'm pretty sure that my great grandmas (one birthed 8, the other 13) would be thankful that their descendants could have excellent medical care that, had it been available, would've prevented lots of trauma in their days.
More judgment. For someone who has asked twice in this post why women judge other women's births, you're laying a lot of judgment on those of us who were traumatized by our c-sections and who aren't thankful for the "excellent" (not so much) medical care that we've received.

I'm not thankful for my doctors or my c-sections. They've damaged my uterus to hell, and they've done it over my refusal (first time), over my objections (2nd and 3rd) and done it by threatening me with a withdrawal of "care". And, yes - it was traumatic, thank you very much.


ETA: Yes - a c-section can absolutely be non-traumatizing. My SIL was thrilled when she ended up with one. That doesn't mean a section is non-traumatizing.

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#26 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 08:36 PM
 
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A woman in my ICAN group said something a few months ago, and it's become something of a catch phrase in our group...

She said that while she would throw herself in front of a bus to save her child, she didn't have to be thankful for the bus that hit her. And that knowing she had saved her babe from being hit didn't mean her own injuries didn't "count". Whether that injury was physical (a limp, nerve damage, broken bones) or psychological (a fear of buses, inability to drive in traffic, nightmares) and whether it was an injury shared by other people who had been hit by buses, it's still valid.

I think the analogy applies here as well... two women may go through a similar physical event but react in very different ways. Both reactions are equally valid and it doesn't necessarily help to compare the two experiences since that sort of comparison often leads to a good/bad, better/worse, or right/wrong dichotomy. Which doesn't help anyone.

(Actually, we've thought about getting T-shirts with tread marks across the lower abs with a "I don't have to thank the bus" slogon of some sort. But that aside, it's been a good analogy for many of the mamas here who are trying to balance being thankful with being hurt.)

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#27 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 08:38 PM
 
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Yeah - and that doesn't even begin to cover the ones who jumped in front of the bus, acquired the injuries...and then discovered that their child wasn't in front of the bus in the first place...

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#28 of 34 Old 05-15-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
When did your friend give birth relative to when she told you the story?

I had a lousy birth experience with my first. Had the epidural early, vaccuum extraction after five hours of pushing (during which the epi failed...) And it *sucked*. But the day after it was all over, I was okay with it. Loved the OB. Adored the nurses. Would have done it all the same again.

A week after that, I was a little not okay with it. A month after that, I was *furious*. I am never giving birth in that hospital again. I am livid about how I was treated during and after labor and delivery, I am grateful that the OB was so patient (most would have had me in for a c-section far earlier in the pushing process), and the nurses were indeed awesome, but the entire labor was ridiculously overmanaged, and IMO, mismanaged.

It sounds to me like your friend's birth was managed for the doctor's convenience, and that your friend suffered an unnecessary episiotomy as a result. It is completely possible that she'll see this herself in a week, or a month, or at some point down the road. She has to get there herself though.
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#29 of 34 Old 05-17-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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Just because her birth did not traumatize her like it would some women does NOT mean that she is uneducated about birth.

It is very possible that she is happy with the birth that she had and is not at all traumatized by it.
This.

What is traumatic is highly individual. Some women are traumatized by a c/s that another woman would have been totally fine with. Some women are traumatized by a completely "natural" vaginal birth, because of the pain.

Some women never even HAVE pain with childbirth.

Although most of us may think "episiotomy, how horrible, I'd be so traumatized, she MUST be traumatized," but really that's no different from another woman thinking "she had a birth without an epidural, how horrible!"

All a matter of perspective, and if your friend is happy with her experience, I'd say let her be happy.

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#30 of 34 Old 05-19-2009, 07:51 AM
 
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But then we have an interesting question - if a woman for some reason is NOT traumatised by having a intervention inflicted upon her is the intervention then ok? For example if a woman knows very little about labour and birth outwith the highly medicalised model and has a huge episiotomy and later says that despite it taking 3 months to heal enough that she could stand or sit comfortably she is grateful the doctor was there to cut her vagina so the baby could come out (i.e. is unaware this isn't actually necessary in many cases) should one let her know that episiotomy isn't necessary in many cases or not?

I know several women who had inductions for being post dates at EDD+2 or 3, which ended with near-catastrophic situations (for example one had a uterine rupture because the ob dialled the pitocin up so high when she'd had her epidural that her contractions were lasting 4minutes or longer) who are terribly grateful that the Ob "saved" their baby.

If we talk in the real world about labour and birth we are going to be telling some previously untraumatised women things which traumatise them. Retrospective hurt is sometimes even worse than that felt initially because into the mix you get to feel guilty and stupid for not realising at the time what was going on.

This is interesting to me because on another thread i've been discussing my experiences as an abused child. I was abused from age 5 to age 12. But i didn't know that what had happened to me was "wrong" or illegal or considered to be the worst thing, short of death, that can happen to someone, until i was 13. It was a shock! It would be so easy for me to take on that trauma, the secondary trauma laid on me by society's expectation.

But with birth it's a tough question - is it worth letting women know that many interventions are unnecessary, counter-productive and dangerous? Is it worth telling women HOW birth can be when it might not have been and cannot be changed in retrospect? Is ignorance bliss?
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